x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Runners raise funds for abuse victims

About 2,000 people participated to raise Dh100,000

DUBAI // Money raised at a charity run held yesterday will, appropriately, be used to help those benefiting from the event to boost their physical fitness.

Around 2,000 people gathered outside Al Mamzar Park at 8am for the second Great Indian Run, and their efforts raised Dh100,000 for the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children. The foundation runs a shelter at Al Aweer for victims of domestic violence, child abuse and human trafficking.

"It's a great day, this is yet another great partnership between the UAE and India and we're very grateful to have this partnership again for the second year," said Fatma Al Falasi, the organisation's social responsibility coordinator.

"This year we're hoping to upgrade our facilities through renovations, and we're focussing on the gym for now to make sure our clients are fit. Physical wellbeing is very important."

The 4.4km run, which was untimed and non-competitive, was arranged by the All Kerala Colleges Alumni Forum to promote broader ties between the UAE and the Indian community and show appreciation for mothers. The organisers took their inspiration from last month's call by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, for people to honour their mothers.

The runners wore T-shirts bearing the Hindi phrase "maa thujhe salam", meaning "mothers we salute you". One of the first to complete the course was Rajesh Kanjilimadom, a 40-year-old administration manager who has lived in Dubai for 10 years.

"It's a good event," he said. "The cause is very important. In this part of the world you earn better so a small amount should always go towards charity."

Also taking part was 34-year-old welder and father-of-two Nurul Hassan, who cannot hear or speak. He signed up for the run after reading about last year's inaugural event in the newspapers.

Communicating by writing in a notebook, he said: "As a disabled person I am very happy to run for a noble cause."

Indian consul general Sanjay Verma noted that there were very few women among the runners, and set a target for female participation next year of 20 per cent. He said he hoped the run would one day develop into a Great Indian Marathon.

Machingal Radhakrishwan, the event's founder, said: "I'm very happy to see this second version of the Great Indian Run."

He said Indians used the phrase "janma bhumi" to describe the land of their birth, while "karma bhumi" meant the land where they worked.

"While we here in the land of earning and living we are thinking about our motherland and trying to coordinate both the lands together," he added. "We are trying to be ambassadors for both lands."

csimpson@thenational.ae